What should I put in my Will?

Your Will sets out who will benefit from your estate (everything that you own) when you die.

So, the starting point will need to be who do you want to inherit, this can be family, friends and/or charities.

Once you know who you want to benefit, you need to think about what you want them to receive, this can be anything from your car, £1,000 or your house. We can help you decide the best way to distribute everything if you are not sure. You do not need to list everything you own, just a rough idea.

You will also need to think about who you want your executor(s) to be, it is their job to make sure your Will is followed after you have passed away.

You can also name a guardian for your children and leave instructions for your funeral.

What is an executor?

An executor is a person named in your Will who sorts out your estate. Your estate is everything you own, including money, property and possessions. You can have a maximum of four executors and they will all need to work together to distribute your estate.

Your executors must follow what you have put in your Will. So if your will says that your house will be left to your son, then it is the executors job to make sure this is what happens. Your executor could even be your son!

You must choose people that you trust. It’s going to be up to the executor(s) to follow the instructions in your will and to find fair solutions to any disagreements. If your executors are good at paperwork and managing legal issues it will be helpful.

What is a Trustee?

A trustee is a person, or people, who takes responsibility for managing money or assets that have been set aside in a trust for the benefit of someone else.

For example if you are leaving money to a child or disabled person, you can use a trust to ensure that they money is used only for them and their best interests.

You will usually be asked to write a letter of wishes so that your Trustee(s) know how you would prefer the money to be used and managed.

Can an Executor or Trustee benefit from the Will?

Yes! It is quite normal for Executors and Trustees to also be beneficiaries of your Will.

How much does a Will cost?

With Alvechurch Legal Services a Starter Will costs £60. If you require something a little more complex, because you are concerned about care fees or because one of your children needs some extra support, you may want to include a Trust in your Will.

Our Property Protection Wills are £180 for one Will and £300 for a couple.

Our Family Protection Wills are £300 for one and £540 for a couple.

Unlike some solicitors, our prices are fixed so the price you see above is the total you will pay. We do not charge an hourly rate.

What does Tenants in Common mean?

If you own your property with another person, then there are two ways that you can own your property, either as tenants in common or joint tenants.

If you are tenants in common it means that each co-owner owns a distinct share of the property whether that is 50/50 or 30/70 etc.

It also means that the share of the property that you own passes via your will rather than automatically passing to the other co-owner(s).

If you own the property as joint tenants, this means that each co-owner owns 100% of the property. So, when one of the co-owners passes away the ownership automatically passes to the survivor- no matter what it says in thier Will.

What is a Living Will?

A living will, which is also called an advance decision or advance directive, is a document in which you can record your decisions as to the circumstances and types of medical treatment that you wish to refuse in the event that you do not have the capacity to communicate the decision yourself. For example, it can state they you do not want a blood transfusion or to receive chemotherapy.

It is not possible for a living will to nominate someone else to make decisions on your behalf, request a particular medical treatment, or refuse basic treatment and food and water. However, a Health and Welfare Lasting Power of Attorney does allow you to appoint someone to make these decisions if you can no longer make them for yourself

Does a new Will cancel an old Will?

Yes, it is usually only your most recent Will that is valid. Sometime, if you have property abroad, you can have more than one valid Will. However, it is really important that if you do have another Will, in Spain for example, that this Will says it is only for your Spanish assets and mentions your English Will so that it is clear that you don’t want it to overwrite your English Will.

Do you need a Solicitor to write your Will?

No. Anybody can write your Will for you, you can even write your own Will if you feel confident to do so.

However, it is also best to make sure that the person that is writing your Will is qualified and that the firm is insured. At Alvechurch Legal, all of our advisors are legally qualified and we have professional indemnity insurance so in the unlikely event that something goes wrong, you, and your family will be fully protected.

Where should I store my Will?

Your Will should be stored somewhere safe, where it will not be damaged or lost. It is also important that your executors know where your Will is stored, whether that is in a box in the wardrobe or with Alvechurch Legal Services.

If you choose to store your Will with us you can be assured that it will be properly looked after. We have a fireproof, explosion proof and flood proof safe! If anything happens to our office, the only thing that will be left standing is the cabinet that your Will is stored in!

We do not charge for document storage and we also do not charge for document retrieval so it is nice and easy to retrieve your Will whenever necessary.

What is a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA)?

An LPA is a document in which you can give another person, or people, the right to make decisions on your behalf. They can make decisions either with your consent or if you are no longer able to make the decision yourself- you have lost mental capacity. You can only set up LPAs whilst you still have mental capacity.

Having an LPA is like having home insurance. It is something that you take out now and hope that you will never need to use. However, if the situation does arrive where it is necessary to us them, you and your family will be very pleased you took the time to set them up.

What are the different types of Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA)?

There are two different types of LPA:

  1. Property and Finance
  2. Health and Welfare

They are both independent of each other and you do not need both, although we do recommend that you do.

For example, if you ever needed care in the future the Property and Finance LPA would allow your loved ones access to you bank to pay the care fees whilst the Health and Welfare LPA would allow them to choose how and where you are cared for.

How much does a Lasting Power of Attorney Cost?

If you want a single LPA (Property and Finance OR Health and Welfare) the cost for one is £240. If you are a couple and you want one type of LPA each this will cost £420.

If you want both types of LPA (Property and Finance AND Health and Welfare) the cost for one person is £420. If you are a couple that wants both types of LPA this will cost £800.

The above costs do not include the registration fee for the Office of The Public Guardian. An LPA can not be used until it has been checked and registered by the Court.

The registration fee is dependant on your income but the maximum it will be is £82 per LPA.

You can read more about LPAs here.

What happens if I don’t have a lasting Power of Attorney?

If you do not have an LPA and you lose capacity then no one will have the ability to make decisions on your behalf or be able to sort out your finances.

The only way your loved ones will be able to look after your affairs is to obtain a Deputyship Order from the Court of Protection. This can be a lengthy and expensive process at an already stressful time. You can read more about Deputyship Orders here.

Can a person with Power of Attorney change my Will?

No. This is one of the only things that your attorney can not do. This is why it is important to make sure that your Will is kept up to date.

Do you need probate if you have a Will?

The answer is likely to be, yes. Your executors will need to obtain probate as this is what gives them the authority to sort out all of your assets, including your bank accounts and property, and then distribute it in accordance with your Will.

The probate process is usually fairly straightforward, you fill in the relevant forms and send these, along with the original Will to the court. The court will check the Will to make sure it is valid and if it is, then they send back a Grant of Probate. It is only once your executors have the Grant of Probate that they will be able to deal with your affairs.

Sometimes, Probate will not be necessary if the total value of your estate is quite small and no property is owned.

If you do not have a Will, your next of kin will need to obtain Letter of Administration. It is a similar process to probate except they must follow the rules of intestacy, the state mandated rules on how you assets should be distributed.

What happens to my Lasting Power of Attorney after I die?

After death, the power granted by the LPA automatically stops. This means that if you have been acting as an Attorney under that LPA, you will no longer have the authority to manage the late donor’s affairs.

If you are acting as an Attorney under an LPA and the donor dies, you must:

  • Stop any action under the LPA immediately;
  • Send the original LPA document and a copy of the your death certificate to the Office of the Public Guardian. This must be done as soon as possible.

What is an Enduring Power of Attorney?

An Enduring Power of Attorney is very Similar to a Lasting Power of Attorney.

You can no longer make new Enduring Powers of Attorney, as these were replaced in October 2007 with Lasting Powers of Attorney.

However, if you still have an Enduring Power of Attorney that was made before October 2007, then it is still valid and can be registered and used should you lose capacity.

What’s the difference between an Enduring (EPA) and Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA)?

Having an LPA has a number of advantages over an EPA. The biggest difference is that EPA only allows the attorneys to make decisions about property and finance whereas with an LPA you can also appoint attorneys to make decisions about your health and welfare.

EPAs and LPAs are treated differently in how they must be registered with the Office of the Public Guardian.

LPAs are normally registered once they have been signed and witnessed- they cannot be used until they have been registered.

EPAs are only registered if the person who granted the power loses mental capacity. When this happens, attorneys can no longer use their powers under the EPA until it has been registered. This often results in a lengthy delay at a time when the attorney’s powers are needed most.

What’s the difference between a Will and Lasting Power of Attorney?

A Will only comes into effect after you have a passed away.

A Lasting Power of Attorney can be used during your lifetime, either with your consent or if you can no longer make decisions for yourself. You can not use an LPA after death.

How much does it cost to set up a Will and Lasting Power of Attorney?

If you want to set up new Will and Lasting Power of Attorney at the same time then then we have a value package, know as our Legacy Protection Package.

The Legacy Protection Package includes a Trust Will (either a Property Protection or Family Protection Will) and both types of Lasting Power of Attorney- Property and Finance and Health and Welfare.

The Legacy Protection Package costs £600 for a single person and £1200 for a couple. A potential saving of £120!